Hurricane Irma turned its menacing sight toward the florida keys on Saturday, as it completed a destructive march along Cuba's northern coast, and set off an 11th hour scramble for safety by Americans who may have ignored warnings to evacuate.
Florida governor urged those who remained in Florida at a late afternoon briefing, saying they should evacuate immediately.
Florida Governor Rick Scott: "If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now. This is your last chance to make a good decision"
US President Trump also said that safety had to come first as property was replaceable, but lives were not.
Trump said those statements: "Hurricane Irma, which looks like it's going to be a really bad one, really bad. But we're prepared. We're as prepared as you can be for such an event"
Irma, one of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, was expected to rip through Florida's southern archipelago on Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center said that the wind gusts at near hurricane force began to batter the Florida Keys late on saturday.
Irma, which has killed at least 22 people in the Caribbean, was likely to inflict billions of dollars in damage in the third largest U.S. state by population.